Mattoon was able to shake some of the rust off after not playing for two weeks over Christmas break. Now, the team is heading into 2022 with a new mindset. The year is going to start off with a difficult task as state-ranked Pana comes to town. With that said, Mattoon will finally get to play a home game for the first time since December 7th. Standout center Sam Bradbury will be a game-time decision. 

Here is a preview of tonight’s (Tuesday) game.

Team Records: Mattoon (7-6, 2-1) vs. Pana (11-1, 2-0)

Where: Mattoon High School

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at Mattoon High School

School Size: Mattoon (930), Pana (395)

JV Tip-Off: 6:00

Varsity Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m.

Opponent’s History: After Gary Bowler recorded 331 wins in a 17-year career, which included a state runner-up finish in 2001, Adam Metzger took over the program in 2016. Metzger led Pana to a Regional Championship in 2019. Their 25-7 season in 2019-2020 was the most wins the team had seen since 2011-2012. Last year, the team finished 14-3 in the COVID shortened season. Altogether, Metzger owns a 94-60 record in nearly six seasons. 

Pana’s Past Results: According to MaxPreps, Pana is the No. 13 ranked team in Class 2A. Pana competes in the South Central Conference, where they are tied for the best record in the conference. After a 61-54 loss to Altamont to start the year, Pana has won 11 straight games, which included knocking off No. 1 seed Meridian 71-46 to clinch the Vandalia Christmas Tournament championship. The two teams own one similar opponent in Shelbyville, who Pana defeated 74-39. 

“We play extremely hard and the boys love playing together,” said Metzger. “They play unselfishly and like to be physical. We have a variety of ways and options to score.”

Pana’s Top Players: The roster has three guards that all average around 15.0 points per game according to Coach Metzger. Brendan Schoonover, Colin Schmitz, and Devon Peebles all have the attention of Ghere. 

“They have three really good players from what I have heard,” said Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere. “Each one of them could go off for 20 on any given night. It reminds me of when we had Spitz, Noe, and Princko a few years back. We are going to need to play good defense to shut down all three.”

Pana’s Team Stats:  Pana is averaging 66.1 points per game while allowing 45.2 points per game. 

Mattoon’s Past Results: Mattoon struggled at the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classis after a two-week layoff from not playing due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Green Wave finished the tournament 1-3. Their three losses included a 48-39 loss to Knoxville, a top-20 Class 2A ranked team, a 57-30 blowout to Dixon, and a 53-47 loss to Charleston in the 11th/12th place game. Mattoon played the entire game without Sam Bradbury, who is considered a game-time decision. Ghere is excited to finally return to home as this game at MHS Gym is only the second time that Mattoon has played at home this season. 

“I’m expecting a good crowd,” said Ghere. “You will have your typical high school kids and there are a fair amount of college kids still back in town. Being at home and shooting on home rims will help with the confidence. We are trying to be positive.”

Mattoon’s Team Stats: Mattoon is averaging 45.4 points per game and allowing 41.5 points per game. 

What Pana Said: “Mattoon is a very dangerous team,” said Metzger. “They have great size in Middleton and Bradbury. They have great shooters in their guards who also like to turn steals into transition buckets. Mattoon’s pressure defense in their extended 2-3 defense is something that gives teams many issues. Mattoon also boasts a great crowd at home games, so it should be a fun yet hostile environment.”

What Mattoon Said: “We have to find a way to score,” said Ghere. “The boys came in to shoot multiple times, but we have to find a way to get the ball into the basket during games. We struggled with that all break. If we get Sam back, that would be an added bonus. We are looking to keep getting better one game at a time. Having a home game will certainly help.”